U.S. Has Worst Health Care Among Wealthy Nations, Study Finds

U.S. Has Worst Health Care Among Wealthy Nations, Study Finds Hero Image

A new study by The Commonwealth Fund suggests that the United States has the worst health care system among wealthy nations, yet another blow to an oft-criticized system that continues to struggle even in the wake of the Affordable Care Act.

The study examined the health care systems of 11 industrialized nations, and came up with overall rankings based on quality of care, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives. Here are the rankings:

1. United Kingdom

2. Switzerland

3. Sweden

4. Australia

5. Germany

5. Netherlands

7. New Zealand

7. Norway

9. France

10. Canada

11. United States

While it may not surprise many that the United States' health care system performs poorly when compared with other industrialized countries, the report offered some pretty scathing assessments of why America lags so far behind, in spite of the fact that it spends more money on health care than any of the other countries:

The most notable way the U.S. differs from other industrialized countries is the absence of universal health insurance coverage. Other nations ensure the accessibility of care through universal health systems and through better ties between patients and the physician practices that serve as their medical homes. The Affordable Care Act is increasing the number of Americans with coverage and improving access to care, though the data in this report are from years prior to the full implementation of the law ...

The U.S. also ranks behind most countries on many measures of health outcomes, quality, and efficiency. U.S. physicians face particular difficulties receiving timely information, coordinating care, and dealing with administrative hassles. Other countries have led in the adoption of modern health information systems, but U.S. physicians and hospitals are catching up as they respond to significant financial incentives to adopt and make meaningful use of health information technology systems ...

For all countries, responses indicate room for improvement. Yet, the other 10 countries spend considerably less on health care per person and as a percent of gross domestic product than does the United States. These findings indicate that, from the perspectives of both physicians and patients, the U.S. health care system could do much better in achieving value for the nation’s substantial investment in health.

Perhaps most surprising is that the U.S. ranked third in the "Effective Care" metric; in other words, America has the ability to provide high-quality care. It just chooses not to.

Below is a graphic showing the rankings breakdown for all the countries. What do you think?

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Explore More